lunes, 4 de agosto de 2008

H&M Canada discriminates against nursing moms

My mom, my sister, and baby Ramona.

Last Saturday, August 2nd, my sister and her husband went shopping for clothes for him and obviously took their 2 month old daughter with them. When my sister attempted to breastfeed the baby, this is what happened, as told by her on email:

"Despite all the medical evidence that encourages breastfeeding, it seems that women continue to be socially punished and made to feel ashamed when they do it publicly. Today, I was shopping with my husband and our 2 month old baby at H&M stores at the Pacific Centre Mall. When he went into the fitting rooms my baby started crying, so I naturally proceeded to breastfeed her. After a couple minutes, though, I was approached by one of the store clerks who told me that unfortunately, I could not breastfeed there unless I went into a special fitting room to do it in private. When I asked why, she said it was the store policy because what I was doing offended other costumers and that there were also children around (sorry H&M, my bad: I was not aware that the sight of a breastfeeding mother could be harmful to a child.) She even said that this is the protocol they are taught to follow during their training. At that point, two other employees came to escort me to the fitting rooms as if I was a dangerous criminal. I was offered to speak to the manager, a very kind man called Guru, who explained to me again that it was the store policy, because breastfeeding in public was offensive to some costumers, and also that they were offering me a much more comfortable space to do it. But of course, they were not "offering" anything, they were forcing me to do it in seclusion or I could not do it at all. So I told them I would publicly campaign against their policy because it is wrong and discriminatory: it punished me for breastfeeding by putting me in seclusion and thus confirmed the idea that public breastfeeding is offensive and shameful.

Please let's not this allow to happen to other breastfeeding moms.

Manuela Valle - PhD Student,
Graduate Programme in Women's and Gender Studies
University of British Columbia, Canada."

BUT, as my sister told me, "they fucked with the wrong Mexican!" [just an expression, we are actually Chilean.] My sister is a feminist in the true sense of the word. She is a psychologist, has two masters degrees and is currently working on her PhD in Women's and Gender Studies. Ooops! This is a woman with strong opinions who can stand up to bullying and is willing to do it. Which is not to say that you deserve to be treated better or differently because you have such an extensive education. Not at all. Every single woman, whether she's a mother or not, whether she has had access to education or not, deserves to be treated with the same amount of respect as any other human being. It's just that not everyone is willing to say: "hey, you are not treating me well, what the fuck?!" But not my sister. She has always been like this, always standing up for what is right, fair, and just. It's just the way we were brought up to be by our parents, especially our mom. I wish I had half the guts my sister has. Like when she decided the right thing to do was to be a vegetarian, even when the whole family mocked her at every opportunity, and when we lived in a country were "vegetarian" means "chicken sandwich" because, you know, it's not read meat. Or when she spearheaded the animal rights movement in our country too. But I digress.

She had the store employees find her husband and when she told him what happened he pretty much lost it and decided he wasn't going to do any business with H&M, now or ever. Then my sister emailed all her friends and family to let us all know about it. Since I work in the area of employment law, albeit in the U.S., I just knew that this "store policy" could not be in compliance with the law. And it isn't. According to the British Columbia Human Rights Commission what H&M did to my sister when they escorted her to a fitting room to breastfeed her baby is sex discrimination. You can read the text of the policy in its entirety here. The part that applies to this situation is this:

"(7) Entities that provide public services/facilities customarily available to the public also have a duty to accommodate lactating women.

(8) For those women who wish to breastfeed / express milk in public accommodation includes:

· allowing mothers to breastfeed / express milk on public benches such as may be found in shopping malls, museums, hospitals, public parks, restaurants, etc.;

· allowing mothers to breastfeed their babies while walking in stores, etc.; and

· allowing mothers to breastfeed / express milk in the regular passenger areas on ferries or buses."

So, if you are as outraged about this as I hope you are, please let H&M know by going here and spread the word far and wide. H&M has got to change their policy, not only is it unfair, it is also illegal.
**UPDATE** Manuela has been interviewed by t.v., radio, and newspapers and there will be a "nurse-in" protest today. Here are the links to the news stories :

Didn't I tell you they were messing with the wrong person?!? I am so proud of my sister!

6 comentarios:

momofonefornow dijo...

Thank you for the comment on my blog.

I hope my description didn't come off wrong. Magical Realism is a genre that I must admit not being familiar with. Based on your description it clears things up a bit. I do not doubt the power of his writing I just wish that maybe I had read this along with a study guide or maybe in a book club experience so that I would have gained a deeper understanding of his style and impetus.

White Hot Magik dijo...

Not sure how I ended up here, but your sister rocks.

Jenny, the Bloggess dijo...

Fucking A!

It makes me want to be able to breastfeed just so I could make those assholes uncomfortable. Your sister is a hero.

Leendaluu dijo...

You ladies rock! I found you through the who Icomleave-whatever.



hollibobolli dijo...

Did anything ever come of this? I thought about it the other day when I saw an H&M catalog.. it's just ridiculous.

Anónimo dijo...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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